There are many traditions that come along with the festive holiday that is Halloween. Carving pumpkins into creepy faces, making homes and businesses look spookier than usual, and the most enjoyable of them all, trick-or-treat. But as a foodservice establishment owner, you’re probably too busy, and frankly too old, to partake in the last activity. So if you want to play a good trick in your restaurant, check out these 5 bizarre foods to scare your guests with this Halloween.
Sannakji is a raw seafood platter that is typically served in both North and South Korea. The entire meal consists of sesame oil and the squirming body or tentacles of a live octopus. Its murky-gray appearance — not to mention the twisting, writhing limbs — is enough to set off a whole range of culinary red flags, even for the tourist who prides themselves on stomaching authentic cuisine.
On top of making calamari look boring, sannakji has the potential to be dangerous. The octopus's tentacles still have active suction cups that could latch onto the side of your throat and mouth and cause a choking hazard. However, the challenge of eating an animal that's trying to fight its way out of your mouth is sure to attract some daredevil guests.
Hàkarl is an Icelandic seafood dish comprised of fermented sleeper shark that has a smell so heinous it's actually better known as "rotten shark" or "rotten fish cheese". In fact, the smell is so bad that even esteemed foodies refuse to try it.
Not unlike free-form jazz, hàkarl has been described as an acquired taste. This probably has something to do with the unpleasant and lingering taste of ammonia that it leaves behind in your mouth. Since the skin of sleeper sharks contains high levels of trimethylamine (TMA), it not only creates that nasty, fishy odor, but it also causes the shark to be poisonous, which can lead to convulsions and death. So, in order to get rid of the toxins, hàkarl must be buried in a covered pit for 6-12 weeks where it undergoes multiple freezing and thawing cycles. Should you decide to serve this “unique” appetizer to your guests, make sure to have a side of schnapps handy to wash away the rotten fish flavor.
Don’t worry, your vision isn’t off and you are reading this correctly. Koolickles are pickles that have been soaked in cherry-flavored Kool-Aid and nearly a pound of sugar. This bizarre and yet oddly tempting snack was originally concocted in the Mississippi Delta area and is slowly making its way across the country. Even though no one really knows the story of how Koolickles were invented, it seems that pickles have always been used in innovative ways throughout the South.
Before pickles were soaked in cherry-flavored sugar water, locals of the Delta would dip them into dry Kool-Aid mix to get that sour pucker that they desired. Some people would even spear their pickles with a peppermint stick to create a lollipop of sorts. While your guests may not be exactly terrified by these vibrant red pickles, adding them to your menu this Halloween is sure to raise some eyebrows.
Just when it didn’t seem like there was anything that could top eating a live octopus, someone decided that drinking the venom of a cobra and swallowing its beating heart was a good idea. Part of the lure to this terrifying dish, is the ceremony that accompanies it.
After guests personally pick out the cobra they'd like to have for dinner, the server arrives at the table, places the fangs in a glass, and drains the venom — which is harmless unless directly injected into your veins (however we don't recommend you regularly ingest snake venom). The waiter then places the funnel into the glass and drains the cobra's blood to create a cocktail with the venom. The pièce de résistance is receiving the snake's still-beating heart on a platter. Luckily for your guests, the blood and venom is mixed with vodka, so they can have a unique cocktail to sip on while they swallow the whole heart.
Fugu is a world-famous Japanese dish that has been popularized by its ability to potentially poison and kill the people who eat it. Think of it as the Russian roulette of food. While non-toxic species exist, authentic fugu (or pufferfish) is brimming with tetrodotoxin, a neurotoxin that is 1200 times more potent than cyanide. A minor error in preparation means the toxin remains in the fish's meat, and if it's eaten, it results in a full-body shutdown, which gradually paralyzes every muscle in the body while leaving the person fully conscious to experience the horror.
Fortunately for consumers, the chefs who prepare this dish go through a special training and certification so that they can properly remove the poisonous sections. When correctly prepared, fugu can provide your guests with a delicious culinary experience. Not to mention, the possible danger of eating it is sure to excite your more adventurous customers.
While some of these bizarre foods may not become mainstays in your restaurant, jokingly listing them as an option on your menu is a creative way to spook your guests. However, if you’re looking to take your menu to new terrifying heights, then adding these odd options could be beneficial for your restaurant. Either way, have fun with your menu, and Happy Halloween!